When you’re single, it’s especially important to select friends wisely. Choose friends who build you up, not tear you down. Learn how to tell the difference.
Last week, while enjoying a bit of pampering at my neighborhood nail salon, I overheard this conversation between two women.
“I hear your daughter is finally getting married,” said the woman with glasses.
“Yes, she’s so happy,” replied the mother of the bride.
“But they’ve only known each other for seven months — aren’t you concerned?”
“No, he’s a very nice man and he comes from a good family.”
“They met on some kind of blind date?” the woman with the glasses continued, determined to find a tender spot.
“Not really. They were introduced by mutual friends.”
The woman with glasses pulled her chair even closer and said in a loud whisper heard all around, “Is she still having a problem with her weight?”
The mother of the bride paused, not sure how to respond, finally saying, “She started exercising and she’s lost 10 pounds.”
“Oh that’s good,” her friend answered, then smugly added, “But you know, once people are heavy, they always have a problem with their weight.”
“The wedding is good motivation for her,” replied the mother of the bride.
“Yes, but she’ll probably gain it all back after that.”
The other woman just looked down at her nails. The silence didn’t last long.
The woman with glasses asked, “Do you want to have dinner?”
“Sure, but I ate already,” the other one said, likely more interested in company and conversation than food.
“You’re going to eat dinner — twice?”
By that time, I was thinking why — why would you go out to dinner with her? She’s only going to say more things to make you feel bad.
It reminded me of a toxic friend who was once my roommate. Amy (not her real name) was constantly reminding me that she was taller, prettier, had more boyfriends — and could have mine too, if she elected to stretch out her sharp-clawed paw. We were “best friends” for years until there was so much resentment brewing inside me I had to cut her out of my life or risk never having a peaceful night’s sleep.
I ran into Amy at my gym some 10 years later. We started chatting, and almost immediately the same dysfunctional dynamic returned. A dynamic where Amy had it all (now a husband, two kids and a house in Santa Monica) and everything in my life was trivial in comparison.
I was astounded to realize I’d allowed myself to be close to that kind of negative energy for so many years — before I learned I had the option to choose friends who build me up rather than tear me down.
I think that choice is especially important for us singulars. We live in a society that still has a discriminatory attitude toward unmarried people. We’re considered fair game for harassment, and since we don’t have a designated life partner to help heal the wounds after receiving “friendly fire,” it’s crucial to have a support system of true friends who respect our singular nature (not people who are proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing).
Now that I’m a bit older and just a bit wiser, I’m spending time with people who inspire me, empower me and encourage me. I don’t have to be friends with people like Amy or the woman at the nail salon who was so intent on poisoning her friend’s happiness.
My real friends respect my choice to pursue my singular life because they appreciate their own independence as much as I do mine. They give me the courage to take steps to realize my full potential. Do we always agree? No. But we generate enthusiasm and a positive vision for our lives and our future. After all, why peck with chickens when we can soar with eagles?
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.